3. Barbara Bates
Born in Denver, Colorado, Bates first came to the public’s attention after the film studio Universal International chose her with nine other girls out of a nationwide search to find beautiful and talented women to act and dance in a movie about Salome. While most of the girls never encountered screen fame, Bates ended up starring with some of the biggest names at the time, including Bette Davis and Danny Kaye. Perhaps her most recognizable role was as Phoebe in All About Eve.
However, despite a happy marriage to Cecil Coan, a film studio publicist, and roles in popular films and television shows, her personal life quickly started to fall apart. With rumors of nervous breakdowns and attempted suicides swirling around her, she stunned fans with increasingly unpredictable behavior. It was because of this behavior that she was written out of the NBC show It’s A Great Life and had her contract with the English studio Rank canceled.
After she watched her husband die of cancer in 1967, there was little keeping Bates going, especially as roles on television and film gave way to work as a nurse’s aide. Despite marrying a childhood friend a few years later, she was found dead in 1969 of carbon monoxide poisoning in her Volkswagen in their home’s garage. She was pregnant.